How to teach academic writing in 160 pages or less…


Here’s another thing that I’ve been reluctant to throw out until now…

Twenty years ago I took over coordinating an academic writing course for speakers of English as a second language at the university where I had just been employed.

The academic writing course they had was OK, but it was kind of hard to teach. And because I didn’t know any better I spent all my time rewriting the entire course so that I could teach it.

And then because I didn’t know any better I created a system to make it easy to mark including avoiding plagiarism without high-tech software.

Then I rolled this out to the half dozen or so other tutors who delivered the programme.

I prepared all the lessons. Standardised the delivery. And wrote the exams. Everyone seemed pretty happy and the students figured out how to write university-style essays.

Eventually, I just compiled everything and put it in a book. That turned out to be around 160 pages.

I think it’s still a pretty good course. Anything topical in the examples are now 20 years out of date, but the teaching ideas and structure still works.

I’d probably do things a bit differently if I got the chance to do this over again. Like a one-page poster, for example.

But I think I’m OK posting it here for free for anyone who wants it. If not, I’ll wait for the cease and desist letters.

I’ve taken the name of my former employer off the front.

Mostly, this is my work. It remained unchanged as the course book for at least 5 or 6 years after I left, at which point I lost track of things.

And while it is my work it does draw on a whole bunch of other stuff that others have done. Some of this is referenced. Some of it is not.

If I’ve missed something, sorry. I’m not going back to fix it. I just want to release it into the wild.

If you’re looking for a basic text on how to teach academic writing there are probably lots of good ones out there now.

If not, feel free to use and adapt this one. With or without citations.





How to map the numeracy demands of your course, context or a particular calculation

This is a guest post by our numeracy expert, Janet Hogan. Thanks Janet…!

Making Sense of Number to Solve Problems strand

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  1. There are six progressions in this strand. The first three are about how to do things (strategies) and the second three about what you need to know to do those things (knowledge).
  2. You only need to think about the first three when you map demands. What you need to know (the second three) will sit one step behind the highest step of the first three
  3. Have a look at the example above. The context mapped here is stocktaking in a warehouse. It requires addition, subtraction of whole numbers (Step 4), multiplication of whole numbers (Step 5) and finding fractions of a whole number such as ¼ of 60 (Step 4). The knowledge progressions will all be at Step 4.
  4. Please note, demands will never be mapped at Step 1 and Step 2 of the additive and multiplicative strategies progressions or Step 1, 2, and 3 of the proportional reasoning progression. These are developmental stages in becoming numerate. For example Step 2 is about adding and subtracting by counting, maybe on your fingers. Learners may be at Step 2 but no demand wants people to be doing that!
  5. Remember: If you know that your learners are at step 2, then you’ve got diagnostic information about your learners – not the mapped demands of the course, context, or calculation.

Measure and Interpret Shape and Space strand

  1. There are three progressions here.  Most demands require the use of some measurement – even if it is just an understanding of time – so you will probably be mapping on the measurement progression. Again Step 1, 2, and 3 are developmental so you will be mapping at Step 4 or above.
  2. If your course/context or calculation does not require an understanding of distance, directions, grids and bearings, in other words how to find your way (location progression) or recognising and working with mathematical shapes (shapes and transformation progression) then do not map on these progressions – indicate that these progressions are not applicable to your context/course or calculation.

Reason Statistically strand

  1. Statistics is the branch of mathematics that deals with the collection, organisation, analysis, and interpretation of numerical data, usually with a view to making predictions. If this is not part of your courses/context or calculation, do not map your demands on the statistics strand – indicate that this stand is not applicable to your context/course or calculation.
  2. Please note statistics is not about reading tables such as bus timetables, wage tables etc. Some would argue that reading tables is a literacy skill for which you might also, depending on the table, need some numeracy knowledge.